Drones have an amazing future helping our first responders. They provide new perspectives, add the ability to see in different conditions, travel where we can’t and remove or at least significantly reduce the risk of human life. In the near future I expect to see more and more of our first responders leveraging drone technology and it makes me proud to know many of our students will be piloting those aircraft. (If you are curious to learn more, click here.
Air and Space Magazine recently ran an article discussing this trend.
In the United States, regional law enforcement agencies are also beginning to rely on Indago UAVs for search-and-rescue and accident scene reconstruction. Lockheed has worked closely in recent years with Project Lifesaver, a nonprofit that helps people with conditions that might make them likely to wander away from home. Clients have tracking bracelets or anklets, and Lockheed offers an Indago model with a Project Lifesaver antenna to help quickly locate missing persons. (In May 2013, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police became the first agency to save a life with a drone, when a Draganflyer X4-ES used infrared sensors to locate a car accident victim in Saskatchewan.)
How near is this future? Well the trend has already started, you can see examples in the news fairly regularly now. Examples like this one where six friends lost on a river trip where found using a drone with thermal imaging.
Caked in mud and covered with bug bites, a shivering group of six friends from the Quad-Cities huddled together in the dark this past Sunday, stranded in the woods of northeast Iowa.
The leisurely float they planned down the Yellow River had gone haywire.
Upon arrival, the Decorah Fire Department deployed a drone. Thanks to the aircraft’s thermal imaging camera, it was able to locate three of the women within 10 minutes.
Or this example where a trapped logger was rescued after a drone was able to navigate a safe path for a boat, then rescuers, to follow.
According to media reports, the logger became trapped when a tree fell onto his hand. Due to the geography of the environment, Danville Life Saving Crew opted to launch their recently-acquired drones. DLSC assistant director Bryan Fox told news outlets his crew had recently become certified as drone pilots, and seized the opportunity to utilize the new tool.
While responding to the call, members of the Danville Life Saving Crew constructed a strategy of how to rescue the injured logger. When rescue efforts began, Fox piloted a drone to safely guide the rescue boat to the worker. Due to heavy amounts of debris and rocks, the drone was able to see what the boat operators were not. The drone was also used to help guide members up the embankment.
What I find most interesting about the second example is that the team responsible for the same is all volunteer. The drone was operated by the Danville Life Saving Crew which began in 1944 with just 16 members. Now, they have over 80 volunteers.
As shown by the Danville Life Saving Crew, getting involved, helping and making a real difference isn’t hard. All you have to do, is be properly trained and certified.